Ballycastle group shortlisted for community award

BALLYCASTLE Community Development Group has been short-listed for a prestigious UK-wide award which recognises the positive transformation that has taken place since the residents held a Big Lunch event on the Seafront in Ballycastle in June 2012.

Local resident, Paul Kerrigan, who nominated Ballycastle Community Development Group, is delighted to be in the final six shortlisted from Northern Ireland and one of 35 communities across the UK competing for the final of The Big Lunch Community Awards.

Should the group reach the final five they will attend a private ceremony at Clarence House, London to receive their award from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of The Big Lunch, on Tuesday 23 April.

Ballycastle Community Development Group (BCDG) first took part in The Big Lunch last year after being inspired by neighbouring Rathlin Island’s Big Lunch the previous year.

During the planning their community group, BCDG, was established and has since held a number of other fundraisers and events such as community games, a tug-of war contest and a winter wonderland, complete with an indoor ice rink!

Since forming BCDG, the group has applied for funding and set up a Facebook page where they share ideas for potential improvements and projects they would like to see happen in their area.

The Big Lunch has played an important part in strengthening community relations between the residents of Ballycastle and neighbouring Rathlin Island.

Together the two communities are planning a maritime festival, which will include a Big Lunch on Sunday 26 May at Ballycastle and a Big Lunch on Rathlin Island on 2 June.

The Rathlin Sound Maritime festival will take place from 24 May to 2 June at Ballycastle and on Rathlin Island.

After learning BCDG’s Big Lunch had been short-listed for The Big Lunch Community Awards, Paul Kerrigan, organiser of the Ballycastle Big Lunch, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have our hard work recognised at this level. When we started planning our first Big Lunch last year, I think we underestimated the lasting effect it would have on our community; it has brought everyone closer together and been a catalyst for local volunteering and increased community spirit, Rathlin and Ballycastle are now busily planning a fantastic Maritime festival so spread the word because you’re all invited to that Big Lunch party.”  

The Big Lunch is a Lottery-funded initiative led by the Eden Project and supported by MasterCard, Kingsmill and Asda. It’s a one-day get together for neighbours sharing community, food, friendship and fun.  8.5 million people took part in 2012 and this year’s Big Lunch will take place on Sunday 2 June. 

For further information or to request your free pack including posters, invitations, a planner and other materials to help organise your Big Lunch, visit: www.thebiglunch.com. Northern Ireland residents who request their free Big Lunch pack could win £1000 to spend on their community.